Over 50% of my negatives have come back blank?

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by ema_williams, Jan 22, 2016.

  1. Good Afternoon,
    I'm a total beginner to film photography, so my knowledge is a bit minimal I'm afraid! So, I was given an old film camera (Hanimex 35me, I believe) & I wanted to shoot some film to see how they'd turned out (I used Kodak ColorPlus film). I got four rolls developed & I've discovered that the majority of the images have come out blank. I mean, I knew for my first few tries I was going to be experimenting a lot, but how can I avoid this for future reference? Is it the camera's fault or was it the film? I mean, the photos that were developed came out pretty good, a bit of grain on some but that was to be expected. I am thinking of purchasing the Canon AE-1 which I know will improve the quality of the photos, but is this likely to happen again even with a different camera?

    I used Photo Express (http://www.photo-express.co.uk/) to develop my photos (I can't fault them - I also gave them a disposable camera I've had for half a decade at the same time, & they turned out brilliantly. They also gave great service, I posted the films late afternoon on Wednesday & they arrived back on Friday morning. Highly recommended!).
    Any help/advice would be much appreciated! Also, apologies if I sound completely clueless about film. I'm hoping to learn more as I go :)
  2. SCL


    Did you use fresh batteries? With no film in the camera, open the back and point the lens toward a bright light, look thru the back...use different shutter speeds and see if in all cases the shutter snaps open and closed, if so the shutter probably isn't the issue. Then the most likely issue is that you failed to properly set the aperture (diaphragm) for each shot. If you don't have a manual, the link is for a free copy for the SE model, probably pretty close to the ME model (he would appreciate a $2 donation). http://www.cameramanuals.org/pdf_files/hanimex_35se.pdf
  3. I'd guess it's a problem with the camera, but some tips to help in case this sort of thing comes up again-
    First- how old is the film? If it is old and/or was stored improperly it could have fogged or exposed itself to the point of being unusable. I'd recommend storing it in the freezer in plastic bags if you're not already, as heat will destroy the film
    Second-Do you have the ISO on the lens set to the ISO of the film? IF [for instance] you're using ISO 400 film and set it to ISO 100, it could [probably] overexpose the film. Same for the reverse, if you're using ISO 100 and set it to 400 your images will be very dark.
    Third- have you had the camera checked for light leaks? Since it is a plastic bodied camera it is possible for it to have cracked a little in areas where the plastic may have become brittle or for it to have just gotten less light-tight over time. If there's a light leak and you don't take pictures and advance the film fast enough it'll probably make the pictures mostly, if not completely white.
    Alternatively there could be an issue with the circuits controlling the shutter, causing the timing to be off and therefore overexposing the heck out of the film, making it white, or not firing it at all [this is my guess as to what it is].
    I would just recommend getting a new camera. If you want automatic the AE1 is great and has cheap lenses, but if you feel the need to move to full manual for whatever reason the Pentax K1000 is another great choice [and it's built like a tank!] and also has good cheap lenses. Either camera you can get for relatively cheap.
    Hope this helped!
  4. Examine the negatives. During manufacture, the film is "edge printed". Data is applied to both edges of the film. This will be frame numbers, barcode, emulsion batch number etc. The edge printing is applied using light. All this graphic develop up along with the images. Should the film or processing be faulty, the edge printing will likely tell the tale. Look at the blank frames, do they have bold edge printing? If edge printing is present, the film and process is good. No edge printing, blame the film or processing. Edge printing present, blame camera or photographer.
  5. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    If the film frame is completely clear except for base color, no light reached the film. Even a very bad exposure should get something. Either the shutter isn't working now and then or you forgot to take the lens cap off.
  6. Are you saying that some frames on a roll are blank but others on the same roll are fine? If that's the case, the problem is the camera, not the developing. As Alan says, if the edge printing -- "Kodak" etc -- shows up on the negative, then the developing is fine.
  7. Its hard to say exactly what this is but it sounds very much like an intermittent fault on the shutter. Mostly when you get into film photography you find pretty much all of the frames come out well, especially with print film which is quite forgiving of exposure errors.
    Do try not to be discouraged, and try to get hold of a decent working SLR camera. Apart from the results, the experience of composing the pictures on a nice bright focusing screen is so much more rewarding than squinting through the viewfinder of a compact camera. But try and get one which has had its light seals replaced, and with a Canon AE1, make sure that it does not have the Canon "squeal", a squeaking noise when the shutter operates which is common to most Canon A series cameras, caused by dried out lubrication in the mirror mechanism.
  8. Thank you all for your responses. I think I've come to the conclusion that the camera may be the culprit here, since the film was in date & the negatives had edge printing, & the surviving images were fine. I'm going to have a look for either the Pentax K1000 or the Canon AE-1 later on.

    @Stephen Lewis, I'll definitely take a look, I'd only had a quick look for the 35me manual online to no avail. Such a good idea to digitise them.

    @Spencer Lange, Yeah I think I'm going to get a new one, I only really used the Hanimex to see how well the images would turn out. I'd been looking at the Pentax K1000 too, I'd read they're both highly recommended 35mm SLRs for beginners. Thank you for your suggestions!

    @Alan Marcus, Yeah the edge printing is present. Truth be told it could very well be my poor film photography skills too!

    @James Dainis, Yeah, that's what I thought. There were some that had bad exposure but they all had some level detail on them, which I found odd. I'll admit I was very guilty of forgetting about the lens cap with my DSLR, but unfortunately the Hanimex came with no lens cap, so it couldn't have been that.

    @Craig Shearman, Yeah they just apeared blank. I thought that was probably the case!

    @John Seaman, Yeah, that's what I found odd! It's only a little hiccup, I'm still very much interested in finding a better camera! And thank you for the advice, I'll try to look out for that.
  9. My first guess would be that your camera has a shutter problem.
  10. If you get a K1000 (or the AE-1 for that matter) most likely they will need service. For the K1000 I'd recommend Eric Hendrickson at www.pentaxs.com.
    Film cameras are mechanical devices and do need to be maintained.
  11. What Anthony said is very true of most [if not all] older cameras. It's best to service it right away rather than risk breaking something and messing it up further.
    Another good camera [going along with the k1000 theme] is an Argus Cosina STL1000. It's like the k1000 but has a removable cold shoe [a pain in the butt to find] unlike the k1000's hot shoe, but as a bonus has a self-timer built in. Both are [in the long run] easy to repair and should last forever. A slight cosmetic difference is the STL1000 is enamel covered brass, so over time the camera will start 'brassing' which, in my opinion, is a very nice effect but does not at all affect the operation of the camera. It [like the k1000] is an m42 lens mount, so they can share lenses made for either camera.
    The biggest difference [to my dirt poor self anyways] is you can find the STL1000 for about 2/3 to 1/2 the price of the k1000, just something to consider. Also the STl has a metal focal plane shutter, something usually seen on more expensive cameras, and it significantly increases the longevity and ruggedness of the camera [the K1000 has rubberized cloth, which is a bit more prone to issues]
  12. At risk of turning this into a "what camera should I buy" thread, I would add that in my opinion, the extremely basic Pentax K 1000 is hugely over-rated. It has acquired a cult status, and consequent high prices, as a result of being widely used in schools and colleges. The Pentax ME Super is a much better camera, with a large, bright viewfinder which is a real pleasure to use, and can be found for a fraction of the cost of the K1000.
  13. The 35SE (manual as indicated above) seem not to have any meter built in, and otherwise to be manual exposure setting.
    For outdoor daylight picutures, I don't think you can get far enough off to have no image, but indoors it isn't all that hard. If you use the flash within range, you also shouldn't miss by so much.
    The 35SE seems to have a fixed 1/125 shutter. That can easily not be enough in darker situations.
    If you did use the flash for some, did those come out better or worse than non-flash?
    Otherwise, it isn't hard to test a camera well enough with the back open. Look through from the back toward a light object, and try different settings.
  14. "Over 50% of my negatives came blank" - Can you say whether 2 rolls came back totally blank while the other two rolls had images. The reason, I asked is because I shot a roll of film a very long time ago and it came back blank and it is because the film was not loaded properly into the camera. Even though you were advancing the camera mechanism, the film was not going anywhere. I kept dreaming that I made masterpieces galore (*_*) that I could not repeat. I never made that mistake again.
  15. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    The Pentax K1000 was often recommended for students not because it was a superior camera but because it had all the basic manual controls and was relatively inexpensive, something a student would appreciate..
  16. Late model prosumer/amateur film cameras are dirt cheap now, so why settle for a relic like a Pentax K1000? Late model AF Canon/Nikon bodies are plentiful and cheap now. The Nikons like the old 801s/8008s and N90s/F90x are superb and work beautifully as manual focus cameras with older Nikon MF lenses if AF isn't to your liking. These load easily and leave no doubt whether the film is advancing properly--something you may be having problems with?
  17. There are so many cameras for low prices. Yes, the Nikons you mention, and Canon from the same time frame. The Nikon F and F2 tend to be a little more, but the Nikkormats FT, FT2, and FT3 tend to be reasonably priced, and the Canon FTb, along with the Canon and Nikon manual focus lenses.
    The Canon AE-1, which the OP mentioned, along with the AT-1, AV-1, and A-1 are fairly easy to find, too.
    I recently found www.interstatebatteries.com and www.batteriesinaflash.com that have many batteries useful for cameras at reasonable prices. They seem to have sales for either a discount or free shipping right now.
    The L28PX is a lithium battery that I believe is the right size for the Canon A series, cheaper and should last longer than the silver oxide battery. It should also work in the Nikon EL2.
  18. Does it have a lens cap? If so did you remember to remove it? We have all been there, done that, when using a viewfinder (ie non-SLR type) camera.
    Can you open the back with no film in, look through the camera towards something bright, eg the sky, wind-on and fire the shutter at all different speeds, to see if the shutter opens at all, and get a rough estimate of the accuracy of the times?
  19. If you have a Nikon DSLR, then get a Nikon film camera, as most of the current lenses are usable on the older film cameras (except the G lenses and the current lenses with E diaphram). That way you will have some lenses for the film camera.

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